Sunday night I attended and spoke at the pro-Israel, “Zero Tolerance for Terrorism” rally in Times Square. I’ve been to many such rallies in the past and was honestly not looking forward. These rallies are often downers. We get together to kvetch and vent our frustrations with the situation in Israel, and the way the world reacts by blaming Israel.
Sunday night’s rally was different.
At this rally, thousands of young people came together to pray for Israel, dance, celebrate being Jewish, and send a clear message to our brothers and sisters in Israel: We love you and we are with you in your time of distress. That’s it. That was the message pure and simple: “WE LOVE YOU. WE ARE WITH YOU.”
To feel both the pain and the joy of our people is a critical aspect of being Jewish. When one succeeds, we all triumph. When one bleeds, we all hurt. Though we are not there in person to suffer the anxiety waiting for the bus, to receive the text alerts about the latest attacks, and to wonder whom amongst us will be next – we are there in our hearts, and sometimes the best thing we can do is show we care and maintain hope. That is what last night was all about.
Unlike the counter protests just a few blocks away, there were no shouts of hate and vilification. There was but beautiful prayers, comradery, singing, dancing, waving of flags, unity, and joy.
It is tempting in times like these to get down and focus solely on the world’s gross misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and demonizing of our people and our story. Our anger is justified, and we should fight back. We must call the networks and demand accurate reporting. We are compelled to correct our coworkers and friends when they often unknowingly slander.
But we must also rally. Let the world witness our coming together and see that our indignation is not fueled by fear or hate. Beneath our protests are flames of pride, solidarity, love, and of course ‘Hatikvah’ – the hope to be a free people in our own land, with peace. In the end, the just cause and love will always trump evil and hate. May we see that blessing soon in our time.